Bob Dylan “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits”

If you subscribe to the theory that BD died after Blonde on Blonde (1966) and was replaced with “Dylan 2,” then this record makes a lot more sense—the cover is a big, dark, head silhouette (which decades later would become a “thing”)—which makes you think of nothing so much as a statue, a monument to a legend, dead and gone, and the white lettering and song titles right over his head announce nothing so much as “this is a product.” The photo (BD in concert, blowing on that dreaded harmonica) looks oddly contemporary—even more so if you imagine he’s looking closely at a smartphone, which is how I’d suspect kids these days would interpret it.

This is possibly the most unlistenable Dylan record for me, as it starts with the dreaded “Rainy Day Women” and is pretty much made up of the songs that have been played to death—which I don’t even think are close to his best songs. About the only one here I can still stand to listen to is “Like a Rolling Stone,” and then only on Nostalgia Thursday, and then preferably with a frivolous drink. If I had the internet right now I’d look up how many times in articles over the years someone has said, “I wish at an early age someone had stuck that harmonica right up his ass,” or “He really puts the ‘harm’ in harmonica.” I suppose it’s supposed to sound like a train whistle, but personally, any time someone tries to make a rock song sound like a train, I’m yawning like the Grand Canyon, and even a mention of a train has me nodding off. And I love trains.


3 Responses to “Bob Dylan “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits””

  1. 1 J Curtis
    June 14, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    This is a good contrast to the Sly & The Family Stone “Greatest Hits” record, which I haven’t commented on your review of yet, but hope to. I agree, some of the best of Bob’s songs are the ones that they don’t play all the time on the radio (and yeah, I hate that “Rainy Day Women” song too, always have — it’s such a dumb ‘joke’ song.). One song of his that may possibly be my favorite, or at least in the top 3, is “Tangled Up In Blue,” which I have to assume came out years after this compilation, and I know it did get some airplay when it came out, and maybe still does sometimes on “Classic Rock” radio (or does it — do Classic Rock stations actually ever play Dylan?), but it certainly never suffered from being overplayed.

    Harmonicas are weird instruments, how harsh and grating they can be sometimes (like the guy on the Twilight Zone who scared off a space alien invasion by playing his harmonica for them, which made them cringe in pain!), but other people can play them and make them work in the context of the music. I never really minded Dylan’s playing, and actually, having tried to play harmonica while playing guitar before, which I found to be truly very difficult to coordinate, I have to have a certain amount of respect for those who do that. But then I also actually really like rock songs that sound like trains — like this great Neil Young song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBG6Yi_q8Lw

    • June 20, 2018 at 9:39 pm

      I do like some blues harmonica, especially when it sounds weird and otherworldly, but Bob Dylan’s I can always do without. But then he’s recorded more music than everyone else put together, so there’s probably something out there (by Dylan, harmonica-wise) I’d like. It’s funny, there are a few of his songs you couldn’t pay me to listen to, and then others, that I’ve listened to ONE MILLION TIME that when they come on, I stop what I’m doing and listen like it’s the most amazing thing I’ve heard for the first time. As far as train songs, I’d admit to liking a few, like that one by the Channel Masters.

      • 3 J Curtis
        June 21, 2018 at 1:57 pm

        Oh yeah, that ChannelMasters Train song is definitely one of the better ones! Elizabeth Cotten’s “Freight Train” is pretty good too.

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